Posted by: Zsuzsanna | January 29, 2009

Why I hate church nurseries

The subject of whether or not church nurseries are scriptural and whether or not I think they should exist is one of my favorite hobby horses. Please bear with me as I go off on it for a while in this post.

For those readers who think nurseries are a must, and without them church would be a circus, this post will do little to convince them otherwise because they are willingly ignorant, and inconsiderate of the fact that children are the most important audience.

Rather, my post is intended to embolden parents who are currently struggling with this issue to take a stand against nurseries, and prove that yes, you can and should have your children in church right alongside with you.

My husband devoted a large part of his most recent Sunday night sermon, “How to win children to Christ”, to preach on this very subject, and I have embedded the video of it below. While the entire sermon is great, the part pertaining to nurseries starts at 36:14. For some reason the camera was not focused properly, but the sound quality is obviously unaffected by that.

I am not going to repeat the points from the sermon here, but would like to add the following:

Keeping children out of the service and leaving them in a nursery is not only detrimental to their spiritual growth, but also their physical health. Nurseries are like leper colonies, and any and all sickness will be passed around as toys (and the accompanying body fluids) are freely shared. In a small church, there may only be one nursery, in which case older kids could hurt younger children by throwing toys, biting/hitting them, or accidentally stepping on the little ones – I have seen all of these. A baby might accidentally be given the bottle of another child, something that even with labeled bottles happens all the time.

There is a prevailing notion that young children get sick a lot and that that’s just the way it is. According to statistics, preschool age children get about 9 colds per year. This number is absolutely ridiculous, but sadly true. When our kids used to go to the nursery during church services, they would get sick at least once per month, but more often it was twice per month. Today I know that almost all of this sickness was completely self-inflicted. Now, the kids get sick maybe once or twice per year at the most. The children in the nursery share germs with each other. They are also exposed to the germs of their respective older siblings, of which they may be a carrier without showing any symptoms of illness yet. They can get sick from a nursery worker who either does not know that she is spreading a virus that she is carrying, or who knew she was sick but didn’t want to miss out on holding the babies in the nursery.

While children are exposed to germs out in public all day long, it is not as aggressive of an onslaught as in a nursery. A child that is exposed to a few germs at the store or in the church auditorium will most often shake it off before it develops into an illness. Such is not the case when their system is overloaded with the amount of germs that they are exposed to in a closed environment such as a nursery with other sick children.

I could go on for hours on this point alone. In short, our kids used to get sick all the time. Since we took them out of the nursery (which was well-maintained and cleaned regularly) they hardly ever get sick any more. Best of all, they are not passing sickness on to my husband, as they had before, which would mean substantial financial losses because of him being too sick to work.

Then there is the question of safety. Churches draw freaks like moths are drawn to light. People are trusting, courteous, and easy targets. How can anyone know that the sweet nursery worker that they just handed their child off to is not a predator? I get so tired of hearing about background checks. They are 100% worthless. All a background check says it that someone has never been convicted of a crime. Maybe they just have never committed one yet? Maybe they just didn’t get caught? Every child molester had a clean record at one time – do you want your child to be the first victim? I am not saying that you should go around suspecting everyone, I am saying you should not go around blindly trusting anyone just because they happen to go to your church. Would you trust that same person at church with all your personal banking information, your wallet, the keys to your house and car, and all your money in cash, to do with it as they saw fit? Hardly. To me, my children are worth so much more than all that together.

Learning to sit still in church will also be a valuable lesson for younger children, rather than picking up every bad behavior from other kids in the nursery. No child is perfect, my own included, which is why they shouldn’t just all be cooped up together to learn each others worst habits.

According to the Bible, it is wrong to tell people who come to church where to sit:

James 2:3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

According to the Bible, Jesus was angry when the disciples tried to keep the children away from him:

Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Luke 18:16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

According to the Bible, it is wrong for the pastor to rule over and command another man’s wife by forcing her to use the nursery.

Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

1Peter 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

Yet, there is not one single verse in the entire Bible that says that children should be pushed aside into a nursery while the adults attend the service.

Do yourself and your children a huge favor and get out from under the footstool that pastors have confined the next generation to because they are so ill-prepared for their sermon that any little peep from the audience will make them lose their train of thought.

To read previous post on this subject, click here, here, and here.

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Responses

  1. I don’t particularly like nurseries but that’s ok cause we have a mothers room instead where the mom stays with the child(ren) when they are too restless!!

  2. I have mixed feelings on nurseries. I appreciate them now, with the little one we have, because without them I would not have been able to ever attend church this entire year, well this entire 363 days due to our youngest’s special needs. It would have been impossible. But, our oldest, he would have been fine without a nursery. He often accompanied us to church and, as an infant, slept right through it, and as a toddler was interested in what was happening.

  3. yes, the children should stay with the congreagtion in the church. They may not learn much, but they definitely learn something worthwhile…Taking them out from the congreation is taking them out of church, because church IS the congregation 😛

    Good job on your post 🙂

  4. At our church ,the nursery is obviously an option, some moms go in there to just change a diaper or breastfeed, however some kids are “visitors”, and most will begin to cry so they get taken back to their parents(I think this meaning the nursery helps the visitors ,so they can grasp the full message )you know not a ll parents know how to handle their kids…., but the nursery is Not mandatory, I work in the nursery a few times a month, so I like to be there with my son, It is a big church ,but a lot of the parents keep the babies with them but I don’t think it is something to just absolutely hate, plus sick kids are not allowed,I am however against daycare: which leads to working moms topic, but let’s leave that for another day.

  5. My church does have a nursery, but parents are not required to leave their children there. The nurseries are available to parents who wish to utilize them. Infants are kept in a separate nursery from toddlers. There are always at least 2 nursery workers in each nursery, and we have pagers to keep contact with parents. Many people do keep their young children out in the church service, and our pastor has no problem with that. When my own children were young, they stayed in the nursery, but someone from my family (myself, my mother, or one of my sisters) nearly always stayed with them.

  6. Great post! I especially liked the part about pastors that tell other men’s wives what to do.

    The following is in response to a few of the comments posted so far: I also like the mother/baby room system because it allows the mother to step out of the service with her child as needed while still allowing the child to hear the preaching and learn how to behave in church. I’ve been to Zsuzsanna’s church, and it has that convenient feature. Although that system is the ideal, I don’t mind going to a church with a nursery as long as I am not forced to use it. In most churches, mothers have the freedom to step out to the foyer or even to a nursing room if the baby gets fussy. Someone mentioned having two workers in the nursery as a safeguard. In the church I was attending, one of the workers would often have to step out to take a toddler to the restroom, leaving the other worker alone with the other kids. Some nurseries are better or worse than others, but they all have their drawbacks.

  7. One more thing: At least with the pager system, the workers are letting you know if your baby is crying. At the church I was going to, the pastor said he wanted to move the nursery as far away from the auditorium as possible so parents so that parents wouldn’t hear their baby crying. Most of the workers there are reluctant to ever go get a parent for fear of upsetting the pastor.

  8. I haven’t had but one pastor who didn’t like the kids in the auditormium. My biggest irritation was from well meaning women who wanted to snatch my baby to the nursery. It seemed to bother some women to the extent they would keep looking at me during the service and then mention afterwards that hopefully next time they are in the nursery the baby would be in there. Or, on one given service, I might have a handful of women come up to me (even after the service started) to politely remind me there is a nursery for babies and young children to attend. I would hear from some women that babies were the devil’s tool for keeping people distracted and not getting saved… whatever! It is so refreshing to see there are some people who make me feel like I’m not odd for wanting my kids with me in church. My youngest is now three and he gets the wiggles at times but he stays with me and my 6 and 8 yo never liked nursery (in fact my 6yo boy hated it so much that even at 18 months all I had to do to get him to be still at church was ask him if he wanted to go to the nursery, after that he would be perfectly still and quiet the rest of the sermon.. made me wonder why he dreaded the nursery so much) so why should a mom subject her children to someplace they don’t like, and they don’t go to children’s church either; which I still have people remind me that there is one… I have used the nursery off and on between my 8 children, mostly because that was what everyone expected, but I finally stood up for my kids (and myself) and just said “no” 🙂

  9. As a pastor of a church that has a church nursery, I thank you for bringing your view. People need to think about church nurseries beginning at, should we have them? I know of churches that have hired their nursery workers, one having a hindu woman in the nursery. I know of another that allowed a man that was so “suspicious” the local karate school wouldn’t let him near their young students, but a church (that he had attended for all of 4 weeks) gladly let him watch the children.

    May I offer some advice for churches that do have nurseries? These are all based on personal experience.

    1) Do not require nursery use. If a parent wants to keep a child that in the service, that is fine. The pastor can encourage this as simply as making friendly remarks from the pulpit about a babbling baby. Welcome parents AND their children.

    2) Do not hire nursery workers. The best people to serve in the nursery are the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, etc of the church. A “I’ll take care of yours and next week you can care for mine” approach is better than hiring a sitter.

    3) Don’t rely on a background check. A new church member should not be missing services anyway. Use only well known, mature women in the nursery

    4) Have a way for nursery workers and nursing mothers to still hear the service. For less than $100 a remote speaker can be set up.

    5) Set an age limit. At three, or at the most, five, a child needs to be in the service, learning to listen and learning about Christ (they understand more than you think). You do not need older kids or teens in the nursery.

    6) Put the nursery in a location where people will not be able to just hang around. For example, in our church, if someone is going downstairs, we know they are near the nursery…nothing else is there during service. This makes it very easy to spot potential perverts.

    7) Inform every nursery volunteer that no one other than volunteers and parents need be near the nursery during service. They should deal with (or have a man deal with) anyone else. Defend the children of the church.

    8) Don’t babysit. Teach the Bible, sing songs. Even babies can learn from spiritual songs.

    9) Keep all toys clean and disinfected. Don’t let the nursery become a dumping ground for people cleaning out their attics.

    10) The nursery is never an afterthought. The children are worth everything we can do for them.

  10. Our church does have a nursery, but it is of the completely voluntary type, and our pastor loves to have kids in the sanctuary during the service. Mostly people take their kids into the nursery if they’re having a tough time sitting/being quiet that particular day (particularly toddlers, 2-3 seems to be a rough age for sitting still) and a lot of the time they just stay with them, there are rarely more than 3 kids there. It’s nice to have the option, but also nice for the kids to be in the service and have a pastor who actively wants them there.


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